Monday, October 30, 2006

The "Mechanical Engine" of the Reformation

The Renaissance was building momentum in the south of Europe. Incredible images were created by artists commissioned by wealthy patrons and the Roman Catholic Church. Not only religious images, created in the noble classical mode of Greece and Rome, but sensual paintings and sculptures were relished by the people (and the decadent Catholic nobles and Popes). The Renaissance represented image, and the general populace, illiterate and steeped in superstition and paganism, found meaning in the ornate paintings, statues, and architecture of Southern Europe. The Pope and the Roman Church counted on indulgences as one method to finance their artistic enterprises. Thus, when Pope Leo decided to rebuild St. Peter's basilica, he sent a convincing salesman by the name of Tetzel to collect indulgences from Germany.

Cut to Northern Europe, some years prior to Tetzel's trek to Germany. In a small shop in Germany stood a man named Gutenberg. As a goldsmith and gemstone cutter, he was familiar with metalworking. He stood at a table creating individual steel engraved letters. Once placed in a frame, inked and printed, they would create words.
He designed and built a printing press that would ink words over and over, and make bookmaking more efficient and affordable. The first monumental work that Gutenberg completed using his contraption was a Latin version of the Bible. Printmaking began to flourish in Northern Europe, providing common people with written material, previously only available to wealthy Europeans. Interestingly enough, when printed material reached Southern Europe, much of it was banned and burned by the Roman Catholic Church, fearful of heretical works getting into the hands of the populace. So...Southern Europe became known as the image dependent Renaissance and Northern Europe became known more for writers and scholars, and a thirst for the written word.

Fast forward to Tetzel's trek to Germany. One person greatly disturbed by the debauchery and ignorance of Rome was Martin Luther. He had traveled to Rome as a monk and was astounded by such things as being served by naked women in the papal court. Further angered by Tetzel who had been collecting money from Germans who brought their receipts to show Luther, he decided to act upon his convictions. He nailed 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church at Wittenberg, denouncing practices of the Roman Catholic Church. Once that was accomplished, he gave his theses to a printer to make copies. Other printers eagerly started printing the theses as well as Luther's sermons. Within a month, Luther's writings had circulated all over Europe. People throughout Europe began to learn how to read. Now they could read truth for themselves, instead of entrusting their spiritual understanding to other men.

Within seven years, pro-reformation literature dominated most of the books published in Germany. By 1534, Luther had translated the Bible from the original Greek and Hebrew into German. He went on to campaign for public schools in Germany for children and stated, "Who rules the land and its people in peacetime? Why, I say it is the quill."

Present day. We are rapidly descending into a new abyss of image based experiences in the Church at the expense of the written word. Video images, song and dance, feel-good messages and little study of the Word of God has taken over the Church. We desperately need a new Reformation.

Lest we forget our good man Gutenberg who was so instrumental in the beginning of the Reformation, let us end with his prophetic words: "Yes, it is a press...from which shall soon flow, in inexhaustible streams...pure truth...; like a new star it shall scatter the darkness of ignorance, and cause a light heretofore unkown to shine amongst men."

Much of this material is derived from
The Vanishing Word by Arthur W. Hunt III, published by Crossway Books

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Al Mohler is a Really Smart Guy.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

One Potato, Two Potato, Three Potato, Faux Potato

For those folks who are following Rebecca's Potato Fest, but lamenting that they don't get to eat mashed potatoes....don't despair, help is here!

Faux Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Steam or boil a cauliflower head
(preferably in broth)
When tender place in blender with...
butter or butter spray
a bit of milk
mashed garlic
some salt
puree a bit

Serve to beloved spouse without saying a word.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Do You Think These Books Make the List?

Marc at Purgatorio has a very witty list of 50 Potential Christian Bestsellers. Great post!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Autumn at the arboretum where I work

Autumn in my frontyard

Autumn in my backyard

Monday, October 16, 2006

A Clarifying Prayer Concerning The Lordship of Jesus

It has been interesting to read the posts over at Pyromaniacs concerning the Lordship Salvation issue. It's funny when I start pondering an issue (in this case sorta amazed that it is even an issue), that I start noticing various writings pertaining to our understanding of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. I came across this prayer from Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions that I think neatly sums up our response and prayers to Christ for our daily walk.

Belonging to Jesus

O Heavenly Father,

Teach me to see that if Christ has pacified thee and satisfied divine justice
he can also deliver me from my sins;
that Christ does not desire me, now justified,
to live in self-confidence in my own strength,
but gives me the law of the Spirit of life
to enable me to obey thee;
that the Spirit and his power are mine by resting on Christ's death;
that the Spirit of Life within answers to the law without;
that if I sin not I should thank thee for it;
that if I sin I should be humbled daily under it;
that I should mourn for sin more than other men do,
for when I see I shall die because of sin,
that makes me mourn;
when I see how sin strikes at thee, that makes me mourn;
when I see that sin caused Christ's death, that makes me mourn;
that sancificiation is the evidence of reconciliation,
proving that faith has truly apprehended Christ;
Thou hast taught me
that faith is nothing else than receiving thy kindness;
that it is an adherence to Christ, a resting on him,
love clinging to him as a branch to the tree,
to seek life and vigour from him.
I thank thee for showing me the vast difference between knowing things by reason,
and knowing them by the spirit of faith.
By reason I see a thing is so; by faith I know it as it is.
I have seen thee by reason and have not been amazed,
I have seen thee as thou art in thy Son
and have been ravished to behold thee.
I bless thee that I am thine in my Saviour , Jesus.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Potato Memories

My brothers, sister and I were the neighborhood hellions. We were surrounded by the good Mormon family, the two Irish Catholic families, and the Jehovah Witnesses down the street. Each family vied to do their duty and get those "hellion" children to golly! They were aided and abetted in their conquest by my mother, who scoffed at their conquests, and dug in her garden to compensate for lack of formal spiritual training of her children. Her spiritual revelations? The tip of a green onion breaking the earth, spinach spreading green down an orderly row, or knowing that a motley clump of potatoes lurked beneath the earth awaiting a good yanking.

My mother made sure we had a vegetable garden. We grew green onions, lettuce, spinach, green beans, beefstake tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, pear tomatoes, more tomatoes, and potatoes. She canned much of what she grew and placed the potatoes in a dark place to await potato winters. Life took on greater meaning when my mother added live chickens to the mix of our household. Now we could dodge pecking territorial chickens while we gathered eggs to add tp our staple dishes.

My mother, not very skilled in domestic duties, (our house, the equivalent of Hurricane Katrina, lanquished under lack of care), or proficent in social skills, (her derisive laugh could drown out political opposition like a chain saw could mow down a redwood, with Butterfly Moonbeam perched in its branches), nevertheless tried her best to nourish her family under the severe restraints of no money whatsoever.

One meal my mother prepared with sublime care, was eggs and potatoes. We had eggs and potatoes quite often, especially towards the end of the month. We ate potatoes garnished with tomatoes in season, or chopped onions and garlic. We ate eggs and potatoes for breakfast when oatmeal ran out, eggs and potatoes for dinner when all else ran out. We fried potatoes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We practiced making homemade potato chips, mashed potatoes, and boiled potatoes with butter and parsley. We even earned extra credit in elementary school by creating potato prints aided by my mother, the artist.

One would think that we would detest eggs and potatoes after a lifetime of such a mundane dish, but I think of my mother often while stirring potatoes. I think of a hardscrabble life and the resources she drew from to sustain a family of four children. I think of such a humble vegetable, the potato, boring brown and dusty, and how it filled the bellies of a family through hard times and cold winters.

One of the last memories I have of my mother is coming home after a night of work, to find that in her frailness, she had prepared a dish of fried potatoes for my husband. It wasn't a fancy dish, but it was a sustaining dish; potatoes sliced in slick white discs by arthritic fingers, chopped savory onions and garlic sprinkled throughout, stirred to just the right crispness; her way of wanting to contribute to our household and somehow bless my husband with her offering. He stated that they were the best potatoes he had ever eaten.

Potatoes. What a humble vegetable. Brown. Mealy. Disdained by thin people. A vegetable that fits neatly in the palm, paring knife slicing through. Thin slices, enough to feed a family. Enough to make a memory.

Go check out Rebecca's Potato Fest

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Hearty Potato Soup

Rebecca has a potato fest going on at her blog. A good winter soup is my "throw it all together" potato soup. Here goes. I don't measure much.

Hearty Potato Soup

Mash a bunch of potatoes that have been boiled in chicken or vegetable stock.
Add milk to mashed potatoes at whatever consistency you like.

Saute lots of onions, sliced carrots, green beans, garlic, broccoli in a separate pan and add to soup.

Add some butter and a good dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt to soup. I also like to add raw sunflower seeds and let them soften a bit. Add lots of spices like paprika, salt, cayenne pepper and whatever strikes your fancy. Sometimes I add grated cheese.

Add one cold day and enjoy.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Spurgeon on Lordship Salvation

PHil Johnson over at Pyromaniacs has a post on "Lordship Salvation", which I have to admit I had not really heard about much until I started reading his posts. I just assumed that a Christian would consider Jesus as Lord of all, and that our journey would be a process of learning how to surrender by God's grace, line upon line, precept upon precept. After his latest post I began to ponder the fact that I had been a Christian for many years before I truly began to "get it" so to speak. Prior to "getting it" I was often rebellious. Actually, it wasn't until I became a Reformed Christian, that I had a much deeper desire to serve the Lord and be pleasing to Him. I even told my husband one time that I sometimes wondered if I wasn't really a Christian all those years, because there didn't seem to be much fruit in my life.

I was reading my Spurgeon devotion and this article by Spurgeon fits in nicely with the whole issue and clarifies some of the points.

Romans 8:30

In the second letter to Timothy, first chapter and ninth verse, we read these words: "who saved us and called us to a holy calling." Now here is a touchstone by which we may test our calling. It is "a holy calling, not because of our works, but because of his own purpose and grace." This calling forbids all trust in our own doings and turns us to Christ alone for salvation, but it afterwards purges us from dead works to serve the living and true God. As He who called you is holy, so must you be holy. If you are living in sin, you are not called; but if you are truly Christ's, you can say, "Nothing pains me so much as sin; I desire to be rid of it. Lord, help me to be holy." Is this the longing of your heart? Is this the substance of your life toward God and His divine will? Again, in Philippians 3:13-14 we are told of "the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Is your calling an upward call? Has it refined your heart and focused it upon heavenly things? Has it elevated your hopes, your tastes, your desires? Has it raised the constant tenor of your life, so that you spend it with God and for God? We find another test in Hebrews 3:1-"you who share in a heavenly calling." "Heavenly calling" means a call from heaven. If your call comes from man alone, you are uncalled. Is your calling from God? Is it a call to heaven as well as from heaven? Unless you are a stranger here, and heaven is your home, you have not been called with a heavenly calling, for those who have been called from heaven declare that they look for a city that has foundations, whose builder and maker is God, and they find themselves strangers and pilgrims on the earth. Is your calling holy, high, heavenly? Then, beloved, you have been called of God, for such is the calling by which God calls His people.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A Sorta Political Video, YouTube

Well. This is rather funny.

HT: Michelle Malkin

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Spurgeon on Trust

Daily devotion from Spurgeon:


Isaiah 36:5

Reader, this is an important question. Listen to the Christian's answer, and see if it is yours. "In whom do you now trust?" "I trust," says the Christian, "in a triune God. I trust the Father, believing that He has chosen me from before the foundations of the world; I trust Him to provide for me in providence, to teach me, to guide me, to correct me if need be, and to bring me home to His own house where there are many rooms. I trust the Son. He is very God of very God-the man Christ Jesus. I trust in Him to take away all my sins by His own sacrifice and to clothe me with His perfect righteousness. I trust Him to be my Intercessor, to present my prayers and desires before His Father's throne, and I trust Him to be my Advocate at the last great day, to plead my cause, and to justify me. I trust Him for what He is, for what He has done, and for what He has promised still to do. And I trust the Holy Spirit-He has begun to save me from my inbred sins; I trust Him to drive them all out; I trust Him to curb my temper, to subdue my will, to enlighten my understanding, to check my passions, to comfort my despondency, to help my weakness, to illuminate my darkness. I trust Him to dwell in me as my life, to reign in me as my King, to sanctify me completely, spirit, soul, and body, and then to take me up to dwell with the saints in light forever."
What blessed trust-to trust Him whose power will never be exhausted, whose love will never weaken, whose kindness will never change, whose faithfulness will never fail, whose wisdom will never be overruled, and whose perfect goodness can never be impaired! You are happy, reader, if this trust is yours! So trusting, you will enjoy sweet peace now and glory later, and the foundation of your trust will never be removed.
1 Job 13:15 2 Romans 5:3-4

Monday, October 02, 2006

Back to Quiet Revival, Despite Some People Sounding Alarms

I haven't posted lately. It has seemed an effort during a stressful time in my life. The last few days I have read a couple of posts, and in them a particular person keeps beating up on a certain pastor/speaker who seems to bring out controversy in various blogs and articles. The controversial pastor/speaker spoke at a very recent conference, and rather than read and absorb the message this guy gave, this "certain prominent poster" continued to flog the pastor/speaker in question. My speculation is that either "prominent poster" is jealous of the pastor's exposure to the Christian body or "prominant poster" is the reformed version of Charles Finney. He believes in the sovereignty of God, but writes as though God has no hand in the teaching and admonition of said pastor/speaker in growing him up in grace and truth. Anyways, I posted an article almost a year ago and was encouraged that God is doing a good thing in bringing people into the truth of grace, and reformed teaching in general. So.....regurgitated words.

It seems like so many Christians are up in arms over alarming trends in Evangelical Christianity. Signs and Wonders, Emergent Churches, Seeker friendly Churches, the list goes on. I am as concerned as the next person and have spent many hours doing research on current trends.

Not many people are talking about the quiet revival that is taking place today in Christian circles. In the midst of crisis and turbulence over truth, Christians are rediscovering the Doctrines of Grace. Contemporary Christianity puts much emphasis on the legacy of the "great awakenings" in United States history. The Second Great Awakening was greatly influenced by Charles Finney who did great disservice to the Church. Finney along with John Wesley much earlier, believed that Christians could achieve personal holiness. Their influence on the Church brought about much that makes up contemporary Christianity in America today. I have noticed a pattern over the past few years. After trying to measure up for years, many Christians have come to the end of the rope of self-sufficiency. The light goes on quickly or over a period of time...a revelation of grace! I hear many testimonies of people who had belonged to churches that placed burdens on the backs of their people and eventually the realization came that they had sat under doctrinal error. It is no less a revelation than Luther's revelation of grace in the tower. It is transforming to the person who is given the gift of understanding their complete depravity, complete dependence on God, and complete gratitude over being chosen by God. I am amazed that people speak of Calvinism as being fatalistic. How can we be anything but overwhelmingly thankful of the gift of salvation? Man in his natural depravity would never accept God. God's gift of salvation is efficient for the elect, and sufficient for the world. Romans 1:20 states that man is without excuse, because all of creation speaks of the glory of God.

I heard a story recently about a guy who kept getting prompted to share the gospel with a co-worker. He kept putting it off, until one day he noticed that she was hauling boxes out of the building. He asked someone else about the co-worker and was told the person had quit her job. He realized that it was his last chance to share, so he took the opportunity. After sharing the good news, the co-worker broke down in tears. She confessed that she had determined to take her own life. After hearing the gospel, she was saved. The way this guy tells the story, he states that she could have possibly taken her own life, if he had not been obedient to the Lord to share the gospel with her. I offer a different perspective. I believe that this co-worker had come to the end of her rope. At the exact perfect moment, God used this man as a tool to evangelize. She, at the perfectly appointed time accepted God's gift of salvation. I hear many stories like this one. We make it about us instead of about God.

So anyways, the Revival. Even in the midst of a great falling away, there is a revival of people hungry for truth, absolute truth. There is a hunger for the Word of God, and for an understanding of grace, sufficiency of scripture, faith, all for the glory of God alone. David Wells, in a teaching I heard recently states that there has always been an ebb and flow in Christianity and so these current trends are nothing new really...but look around. Don't you see it too? The quiet revival?